Social inclusion in music technology

Offering software choices for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Project led by Nick Slater.

About the project

What is the project about?

Offering software choices for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. It was highlighted in the first lockdown in early 2020 how many students did not have access to Apple Mac only software, but did have access to PC based music production software such as FLStudio.

Each year, level 3 music tech students have a DAW external assessment (Digital Audio Workstation) This is taken in the second year and only gives the students one chance to achieve, unless they return the following year. As this external assessment uses Macs and Apple’s own software Logic X Pro it favors students who are fortunate enough to have access to Macs as they have a chance to further their learning outside of college. Although we do accommodate college facilities to all students as often as possible, if more students could practice their craft outside of timetabled hours at home this would clearly reflect in the students’ achievement results.

We have recently put in an order for 10 copies of a DAW software called FLStudio which allows students to use the software on a normal PC or iPAD, even their smartphones. Although we wouldn’t be giving the students software it does mean they are in a position of choice for a much cheaper option, which is why FLStudio is becoming an industry standard, alongside Ableton and Logic.

More importantly, FLStudio works on PCs which are a lot more affordable than a Mac. I have vast DAW knowledge in the other two industry standard DAWs (Ableton and Logic) but it would benefit the students if I updated my FLStudio techniques for FLStudio software. This could be cascaded to other staff members and therefore accommodate the choice of software available for lower income families accessing a DAW at home

What is the benefit to students?

  • Although we are installing 10 copies about 60+ students a year would benefit directly and another 40 indirectly.
  • Students achieving higher grades will allow more access to HE options and opportunities that could be out of reach within a coldspot area such as Peterborough.

How will the impact of the project be measured?

  • Achievement success in level 3 DAW external assessment increase
  • Improved grades for level 2 and level 3 music performance and music technology students
  • Increase in progression to HE for socioeconomically disadvantaged students

What will the outcome be?

  • Student resources
  • Increase industry subject knowledge
  • Cascaded staff training on software
  • Screencast instructions for students including music production tools and techniques within FLStudio

Research findings

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